Keeping frackable gas in the ground is what Ukraine is about

I’ve been saying this for over a year now and finally i see an article in which the writer understands what is absent from the popular dialogue over Ukraine.

Here’s a little background first.

Ukraine has huge deposits of shale gas that until the advent of fracking were inaccessible. In the past 18 months Chevron/ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell have signed deals to invest a combined $30B into this country to frack these deposits. The process has already begun in a few regions.

How would Putin take it if Ukraine were to begin using pipelines that once were Russia’s primary income stream and political leverage over the Western Hemisphere to send UKRAINIAN GAS to Europe ?

Watch the RT Network for more than a hour and you will see 2-3 anti fracking commercials. Who was the big money behind getting fracking banned in Hungary and a fat new deal signed with Gazprom?

It’s all very clear.

Russia’s recent growth has been based on a singularized economy that Putin and to a lesser extent the Oligopoly wants protected. Instead of using the petro wealth to diversify the economy and build infrastructure as a base for future economic growth everything has just been stolen by the guys at the top. Staggering wealth – Putin’s soon to be completed palace on the Black Sea for example is estimated at over $1Billion and 12 years in the making.

Ukraine fracking it’s own gas is the beginning of the end for Putin who will now (if sticking to the despotic dictator playbook) divert Russia’s domestic population’s attention to a patriotic fight against the West….. more militarized society, collapsing ruble and domestic credit markets (all the result of the evil western bankers of course)..

For those that want to understand the Ukrainian situation here’s an article from February by David Heron at The Long Tail Pipe.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ukraine’s revolution stems from dependency on Russian natural gas and plans to frack themselves free of Russia

This morning’s news tells us that the Ukranian government has begun an attack on protesters camped out in the Maidan, or Independence Square, known now as the Euromaidan.  Reports say that over 25 have been killed including several police officers.  The fighting follows several months where protesters have taken over several blocks of downtown Kiev, set up an encampment, and armed themselves with rocks.The press is describes the conflict as a question of Ukraine’s identity – is it a European country, or an Asian/Russian country?  It’s a large country, about 45 million people, straddling the Europe/Russia/Asia dividing line.  However, the crisis has very much to do with natural gas supplies and fracking.The Ukraine, while sitting on large shale gas deposits, cannot afford to develop those deposits itself, and was looking to either the European Union or Russia to fund shale gas development.  Over the last year Ukraine signed deals with both Chevron and Shell allowing both companies to begin exploratory drilling in preparation to start full scale fracking.  Additionally, the country owes billions of dollars to GAZPROM, Russia’s oil and gas company.

This is a map of shale gas deposits in Eastern Europe that I found while writing an earlier report on fracking in Romania.  We see two shale gas regions in the Ukraine, in the East and in the West.  The Western formation stretches from Romania (which I’ve been reporting on recently) and into Poland.  While researching this earlier, I’d learned that the Western oil companies had been in Poland trying to exploit those same resources, but since left because Poland wanted to institute higher royalties than Exxon/Chevron/etc were willing to pay.

But, let’s get back to the Ukraine, and focus on the real story.  It’s sad that people are dying in the streets, but we want to focus on the real reason behind the fighting.

As we see in the following stories – Ukraine had inherited a significant natural gas pipeline infrastructure when the Soviet Union fell apart, putting Ukraine into the role of middleman between GAZPROM and its natural gas customers in Europe.  A few years ago Ukraine caused some ruckus by increasing the transport price, the price it charges for allowing natural gas to flow through their pipelines, leading to a crisis in Europe.

One result is a pair of pipelines, Nord Stream and South Stream, that bypass Ukraine allowing GAZPROM to sell directly to Europe.

The other result is Ukraine owes a bunch of money to GAZPROM and was looking to either the European Union or Russia for an aid package.  They started to make a deal with the EU, and additionally signed deals with Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron under which both companies would begin the exploratory work necessary before going to full scale fracking.  By opening their shale gas deposits to fracking, Ukraine would free itself from dependency on Russia.

Then, in late November, Ukraine did a U-Turn choosing to embrace Russia, because Russia offered a bigger aid package.  That set off the protests.

Gas Is the Fuel of Ukrainian Foment:  In 2005-6 and in 2009, Ukraine saw its natural gas supply from Russia cut off that may have been about natural gas pricing, or else about corruption by then-President Yulia Tymoshenko.  Ukraine was offered a $15 billion package by Russia, beating the economic package offered by the European Union, and some of that package will wipe away debt Ukraine owes to GAZPROM.

Ukraine unrest: the energy connection: When the Ukraine agreed to purchasing lower cost natural gas from Russia, it infuriated Pro-Europe factions eventually leading to the fighting and protests.  Ukraine didn’t have much option, since it gets 70% of its natural gas from Russia.  The dependency goes two ways, because Russia’s GAZPROM is dependent on Ukraine’s natural gas pipelines to sell gas to Europe.

Seven Reasons Why Russia Wants to Keep Ukraine All to Itself: It’s not just about natural gas.  However, Ukraine has natural gas pipelines through which GAZPROM has sold gas to Europe in the past.  But, Russians see Ukraine as a mini-Russia and as the birthplace of Russian/Ukranian society.

Ukraine owes Russia $2.7bln for gas – Gazprom: More details on the agreements between Russia and the Ukraine.

EU gives Gazprom preliminary ‘OK’ for South Stream gas pipeline:  GAZPROM has been working on two gas pipelines that would bypass Ukraine, allowing Russia to directly sell gas to Europe without having to go through the Ukraine.  South Stream is one of those, and an agreement was made allowing countries to buy gas through South Stream even though it technically violates EU law.

See for more information.  In a bit of Big Brother style newspeak, the website says it will increase energy security in Europe.  What it’s actually doing is ensuring Europe is dependent on Russia for “energy” (a.k.a. natural gas).  Seems to me that doesn’t increase Europes energy security, but decreases it.
One reason Europe might have for developing natural gas resources in Europe, whether by Fracking or otherwise, is to free themselves from Russia’s grip.  Of course what I’d prefer Europe to do is keep up with the plan of building wind turbines and solar energy.
South Stream was initiated in 2007, or immediately after the first instance where Russia was forced to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and through that country to Europe.
Nord Stream is another gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine, this time going through the Baltic Sea.  Natural gas is already flowing through Nord Stream.

Ukraine sets back Gazprom profits by 10.5%: This quarter GAZPROM reported a large decline in profits.  While the secretive company doesn’t explain the decline, observers believe it was caused by cutbacks in natural gas purchases by Ukraine.

Russia: Ukraine gas debt ‘source of anxiety’: “The growing debt for gas supplies is a source of anxiety,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told Russia’s Kommersant-FM radio.

Ukraine Signs Drilling Deal With Shell for Shale Gas:  In January 2013, Ukraine and Shell signed a deal allowing the company to begin exploratory drilling in the shale gas deposits.  That’s the precursor to full scale fracking, and would take a few years before the fields would begin producing.  At that time Chevron was trying to also get a deal, but was denied.

Chevron and Ukraine Set Shale Gas Deal: Chevron got their deal in November 2013.  This was immediately before Ukraine suddenly performed a U-Turn and embraced Russia, setting off the protests.

The dispute in the past between Ukraine, Russia and Europe was the “transport price” Ukraine charged for GAZPROM to use Ukraine’s pipelines to sell gas to Europe.

THE ECONOMIC AND STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS OF THE UNCONVENTIONAL OIL AND GAS REVOLUTION: This is a policy paper from the Economics and Security committee of NATO.  I haven’t read it in detail yet, but it looks to be a great overview of the Fracking situation in Europe.

– See more at:

The best charting teacher I know:
The Morning Analysis Service by Paul Coghlan


  1. snake-eater   •  


    I think you are onto something here and it would be a great opportunity for some to make large loot.

    I’ve done poorly with SB but ZW saved my ass. I think ZW would be way higher in the upcoming months with the current UKR situation.

    • jf991   •     Author

      I think any outbidding by the Western majors was going to work like this:
      1. Exxon outbids Lukoil. Lukoil only being part of the process to ensure a high price which mostly goes to Yanukovych and his cronies.
      2. Exxon does the development and builds it up.
      3.The Yanukovych government slowly makes business harder for Exxon through regs and it is sold to lukoil/gazprom etc.

      This way the max is extracted and development is done right by the western majors who are technologically and in terms of experience way beyond any russian company in the fracking arena.

  2. qwerty   •  

    I really have no interest to analyses this stuff, but if you are right, I say, thank you Mr.Putin, to turn this f*cking fracking deal to dust.
    Be so kind and frack yourself in your ass somewhere in the ussa and leave us in europe alone, thank you uncle sam.

    BTW, how would an average joe in ukraine profit from this nonsense deal? I tell you, he wouldn’t even know it …

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